A director on a mission to send a message

Published: January 7, 2013

Director Hasan Askari looks to Pashto films for talent. DESIGN: ESSA MALIK

LAHORE: 

Like many of the old school directors in Lollywood, Hasan Askari seems to be desperate for new direction. He is considered to be a prolific director for the industry. Speaking to The Express Tribune, he discusses his last attempt at films; through his new production company Vega movies and his interest in the Pashto film industry.

Today, Askari says that he will be looking for talent in the Pashto film industry for many of his films, with the local industry in Lahore  left as a shadow of its former self. For his latest Urdu film Dastaan, he says he will be casting actors from the Pashto film industry. This film is expected to be out in April or May 2013.

Dastaan is a film where we will be casting artists from the Pashto film industry, because the actors or artists from our film industry cannot be relied on any longer,” says Askari. “I think that Pashto films are strong and have a widespread impact on modern day sub-continent films,” he adds further explaining that “I feel the actors are more disciplined too.”

Askari is optimistic when he points out that Pashto films have quietly developed a bigger market than the once dominant Punjabi film circuit. He says the international market has allowed for producers to make films with fewer resources. With lead roles by Moammar Rana and Zari, the cast also includes Shahid Khan, Jahangir Khan and Asif Khan.

This film is unique because it will be dubbed in both Pashto and Urdu, to cater to the maximum amount of people. This has been done before and Askari is sure that it may help the project to reach more audiences.

“It is unfortunate that in the past, these types of films have focused more on Punjabi culture, instead of trying to address social problems,” explains Askari. The film’s plot will try to explore the theme of extremism, something that has taken its toll on the Pashto film-makers over the last decade or so.

Askari explains that Jahangir Khan will play the villain representing extremists while Moammar Rana will play the role of a young man who wants to avenge the death of his father, a police officer.

“It want to be political without naming any groups, but Moammar Rana’s character will try to challenge the same forces that killed his father,” says Askari.

Meanwhile, Askari also has another film which has already been passed by the censor board and will be released in February. This project also tries to address underlying social-political constructs of peace in a time of uncertainty. The cast consists of mainly new actors and some veteran ones such as Sami Khan and Mumtaz Malik.

“This film is based largely on the background of Kashmir and has tactfully tried to explore why we have been unable to move towards peace,” Askari explains. “It looks at a lot of interesting issues,” he adds.

Askari confesses that after years of making various kinds of films, his goal is to  eventually direct an entirely artistic film.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2013.

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